Tensions are at a boiling point between Russia and Britain after the UK Defense Ministry declared it plans to send a reconnaissance plane on a route that partly passes into Russian airspace and over its territory.
It seems Russia's air force may have been given shoot-down orders, or is at least ready to confront any possible foreign aircraft, if the UK attempts such a military breach of Russian airspace. "Russia’s Defense Ministry warned Britain Tuesday against a planned spy plane flight over Russian territory, saying the country’s air force has been given orders to prevent an intrusion," The Associated Press writes over the emerging standoff between the two countries.
This after the UK issued an official notice to the Kremlin forewarning about the planned flight of an RC-135 spy plane. "We regard this action as a deliberate provocation," the ministry said, issuing its own counter-warning saying that the air force has been "given the task to prevent the violation of the Russian border."
"All possible consequences of this deliberate provocation will lie entirely with the British side," it continued, but without specifying the location and time for the potential UK flight.
It seems in the recent past, prior to the Ukraine war and corresponding Western sanctions on Russia, such "notifications" of recon flights near Russia from the West may have been seen as more routine - akin to similar 'Open Skies' treaty flights - but the Ukraine conflict and crisis appears to have definitively ended such forewarnings and permission.
Certainly the prior post-Cold War era 'Open Skies' agreement between the US and Russia has already collapsed, after on May 21, 2020 then President Trump announced the US would withdraw from it based on alleged Russian violations of the treaty.
The Russian Defence Ministry has said that the UK requested permission for its RC-135 spy plane to fly over Russia. pic.twitter.com/iKIp7F3Z68— Lexi (@missylexilou) August 16, 2022
The Kremlin's resounding niyet given to the UK comes the day after an intercept incident in Russia's far north, detailed in the Daily Mail as follows:
A Russian MiG-31 fighter jet made an 'unsafe close pass' of an RAF spy plane yesterday, Britain's Ministry of Defence (MoD) said, after Moscow claimed the plane had infringed on its airspace.
The RAF spyplane was flying over the Norwegian and Barents seas on Monday on a flight path which took it close to Russian territory, but at no point did the British aircraft enter Russian sovereign airspace.
The MoD said the RC-135 spy plane's crew maintained radio communications with Russian civilian air traffic control throughout its flight.
As for this latest firm Russian rejection of any possible future RC-135 flyovers near its territory, the UK defense ministry did not immediately respond. It's also unclear whether the Tuesday Kremlin statement may have actually been describing or inspired of the Monday encounter of the "unsafe close pass". Certainly the Kremlin is now warning that such future intrusions won't be tolerated.